Hylozoic Ground goes to Venice

24 Jun

Hylozoic Ground, by Philip Beesley and his team, is a collection of works that explore a new kind of architecture, one that is characterised by lightness, flexibility and sensitivity, literally. The installations are made of thin transparent or translucent polymer arranged into delicate webs and appendages that not only respond to the immediate surrounding (i.e. to your presence, or moisture in the air) but also communicate this response to each other over its network, so that each stimulus response ripples out from the stimulus location. In other words, the Waterloo based architect is trying to make architecture more like a living thing, and already he has created somehing that represents a living architecture.

Videos and more images and the rest.

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You can help start up the FabLab process, be statistically significant and fill out the survey!

2 Jun

By filling out the survey, you’ll be helping me understand your needs, and also help make a case for the Toronto FabLab’s place in the market.

I’ll need a minimum of 30 responses in order for the survey to be useful in our business plan and funding acquisition. So please, help us help you by filling out the survey below. A million thanks!


Survey Link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LWLJMLC

Mismatched socks: standalone part two DRAFT

1 Jun

To give a concrete example of the standalone complex, I’ll use an example from daily life. A while ago I was doing laundry with my girlfriend, and on that particular day she found herself with no matching socks. I saw it as the perfect opportunity to illustrate the difference between a rigid and a flexible system. In a rigid system, in this example a system where all socks need to be matched in order to do work, if you have any sort of failure, such as the lack of a matching sock then your system relies on redundancies to cope. That works for a small amount of failure, but in the case of a complete dearth of matched socks, for instance, you will end up sockless until next laundry day. On the other hand is a flexible and dynamic system that uses a modular units that can be interchangeable catch up with such failures, that is for example if you change your mind about match matching pair of socks is. If you redefine a matching pair of socks to that which you can wear to go out and then do your business, then the system is becomes much more flexible. All it takes is a shift in your perspective and how you react to changes in situations. In that sense I’m trying to create it in organization that can operate as a drawer full of mismatched socks. Just like in the drawer, the socks themselves do not change, rather it is the person wearing the socks that changes . The organization is the one that changes. The members of the organization, the people involved don’t change, only in how you use them.

brickworks cloud prerender

1 Jun

In search of the standalone complex: A loose group of individuals that work toward a common goal.

31 May

A true act creates the conditions of its own possibility.

Slavoj Zizek

For quite some time now I have been thinking and talking about the standalone complex. That is, an organization of independent agents working toward a common goal, with minimal structure. The provenances of this search are multiple: my experiences with clunky team projects as opposed to the more fluid and seamless duo projects, Ghost in the Shell, ants, birds, etc. What is different between the standalone and just a group of disorganized people, is not the amount of coordination in each, but the effectiveness of each. In the first, decisions are made quickly, iterated, tested and results returned for synthesis and assimilation. In the latter work is repeated, neglected, fragmentation occurs, egos bruised etc.

Why bother?

Our sensorial experience of time and space is shifting due to a feeling of increased mobility and the technological sensation of an always on that takes connection everywhere: it´s always now, it´s always here.1

I’m of two minds about the above statement. Firstly I believe that the core experiences of life will never change, and that no matter how technology changes, life will consist of a few things; food, drink, friends, music, conversation. The quality of the preceding will dictate your experience of life to a large extent. Secondly I have just stepped into the 21st century with my handheld internet portal thingy, and I am already experience a mental shift in how I perceive availability. Blackberry users have known this forever, but as I said, I have only just joined the ranks of the wirelessed.

To get back to the point, the creative working world is flirting with many practices in response to this ; horizontal hierarchy, collaborative leadership, servant leadership etc. I believe the root cause is a cultural shift. The apparent increase in complexity of problems, the rapid pace of technological change, all these are minor, in my opinion, in comparison to the change in people’s attitudes. There are fewer and fewer “company people” nowadays, as evinced by the number of startups. Especially in the creative fields, where the number of people who prefer to be freelance, to be entrepreneurial is markedly increasing, traditional structures of command are no longer valid, because everyone is captain. Which is why I am claiming that more than redefining leadership and rejigging company hierarchy, we need to move away from the notions of leadership and hierarchy completely.

I stole the term standalone complex from an animation called Ghost in the Shell, [which is set in a near future Japan, where cyborgization is complete (individuals exist with only a human brain, and everything else is robotic), and the network is everywhere and everything], because it perfectly describes the disorganized organization that I am seeking. In the series the term actually refers to the spontaneous nature of a networked society, how that complex network is “where unrelated, yet very similar actions of individuals create a seemingly concerted effort.” However I see the term more appropriately applied to the protagonists of the series itself, who are a group of ex military, ex police, extra-legal “security officers”, who fly around Tokyo catching political defectors, industrial criminals, communicating via cybernetic implants. There is an apparent hierarchy and division of labour within the unit, but one that seems to be only lightly enforced. Apart from the Major and the Chief, who give out orders, the agents are free to use their own methods to achieve the goal. It is this characteristic that I most interested in. At many points in the plot, agents act unilaterally and independently, with only brief communication between members. I saw that form of independent teamwork as being extremely valuable for me as a designer, because, as David Gray says, we are birds, and there are no bosses or managers in flocks.

The path to the independent team is simple, I think, as long as you keep a few things in mind.

1. Establish the goal, how you get there is up to you.

2. Communication is key, but decision making is also up to you.

2.1 Communication is two ways, seek information as well as receive.

2.2 Be aware of what is going on, and remember your purpose.

3. Parameters are important, but unless they affect the goal, they are completely free to change.

These are not self evident rules, but guidelines as gleaned from my experiences in projects and also from thinking about swarms and flocks. Ants don’t have meetings to decide where to dump garbage and when to gather food. They react to their environment and do what needs to be done. Birds don’t train to fly in formation, they go with the flow and follow a few leaders. Distributed leadership is also a useful model in the workplace, unless you think about leadership as I do. Leadership is only necessary when people are unable to make their own decisions. I am not advocating the removal of leaders or a new process, but rather the removal of the need for leadership.

Does Toronto need a public prototyping shop?

22 May

For those that don’t know, I’m involved in starting up a design space/prototyping lab in Toronto, to support people who want to make their ideas physical.

The main difference between what we’re planning and a regular fabricator/prototyper is that you will be more involved.

Help us out by taking this survey, and tell us if you need a space to make your projects, and people to help you out.


amorphous/crystalline bike wheel cloud

21 May

Sino-Urgic Easter eggs

19 Apr

Now the real work begins.

18 Apr

After two weeks of steady work on the wood, I’ve finally got it into a somewhat recognizable table form.

The majority of the wood has been jointed and cut to length.

First day at the workshop.

2 Apr